Casa Las Tortugas is a bohemian bolthole on Holbox, Mexico's island home of easy-going barefoot luxury. The powder-soft seashell sand is quite literally on your doorstep, while inside, the rooms have the local flavor and low-key charm of upcycled driftwood artwork, color-pop painted tiles and pom-pom cushions handmade by native artisans. There’s a hammock on every balcony, and a palm-fringed pool if you want a change from swimming with turtles in the ocean. The trio of restaurants are chilled AF (As Frozenmargaritas), serving Mexican tapas, sushi, and zingy fresh-fruit cocktails on the rooftop.
Noon, check-in from 3pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $169.49, excluding tax at 18 per cent.
Rates include a breakfast of homemade bread, juice and coffee, plus your choice of either the egg dish of the day or a heap of granola, yogurt and fruit.
Say ‘Hol-bosh’, not Holbox, or else you’ll be outed as a gringo.
At the hotel
Swimming pool, free yoga classes, free Wi-Fi. In rooms: air-conditioning, free bottled water, local organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Depending on exactly how lazy you’re feeling, go for a beachfront room or a garden-facing one (which is only about 10 seconds from the sand, but still). The upper floor rooms are more secluded, and their balconies have elevated views.
The adults-only courtyard pool is sheltered from the sea breeze and shaded (partly) by palm trees. It’s got a built-in hot tub too.
The in-house Agua Spa has a focus on – you guessed it – water, but the treatment list extends far beyond hydrotherapy, to mud wraps, coconut milk facials and ancient Mayan rituals (not the sacrificial kind, you’ll be pleased to know).
Leave space for vintage treasures from the Casa’s carefully curated Bazaar Boutique.
The hotel isn’t set up for wheelchair users.
It’s a grown-up sort of place, but over-12s are welcome.
All the cleaning products are eco-friendly, while linens and fabrics are sourced from local artisans.
Take up a perch on the roofdeck of Mandarina in time for sunset, or dine with your toes in the sand on the beach itself (it’s illuminated by fairy-lights at night).
Float freely is loose linen beachwear. Going shoeless is encouraged, nigh on obligatory.
There are three: boho-styled Mandarina, its rooftop sister, and on-trend Luuma, in a palm-lined courtyard across the road. At either Mandarina, expect Mex-Mediterranean flavours and a whole lot of seafood – for an A* appetizer, try the wafer-thin slices of raw fish drizzled with mango jus. Luuma is all about the Mexican tapas, which come in platters themed around the sea, earth, cheese, and veggies. To sample a bit of everything, buddy up and prepare to share – yes, even the fried baby squid.
Cocktails flow at the bars of both restaurants, thanks to the team of expert (and generous) mixologists. Go for an Aperol Roof with sunset on the terrace (silver tequila, watermelon juice, ginger, lime and Aperol), or head to Luuma for one of four house specialities (our favourite is the Luuma Colada: dark rum mixed with maracuya pulp, coconut cream and homemade cinnamon syrup).
Mandarina serves breakfast (7am to 11am), lunch (noon until 5pm) and dinner (6pm until 10pm); Mandarina Rooftop only serves dinner, from 5pm until 10pm. Luuma is open for food and cocktails from 5pm until 11pm.
No room service, but the restaurants are only a few fork-lengths away.
Casa Las Tortugas is on the north coast of the slender island of Holbox, just off the Yucatán peninsula where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean. It’s a little fiddly to get to, but that makes arriving all the more satisfying.
Fly into Cancun with your choice of major airline, then drive to the port of Chiquila (two hours away) to catch the ferry to Holbox. When you arrive on the island, take a short ride in a golf cart to Casa Las Tortugas. Transfers arranged by the hotel cost $90 per person each way, or $105 per person each way in a private car from Cancun.
Cars are practically redundant on Holbox – if you have a rental, your best option is to park it up in Chiquila before hopping on the ferry. Explore the island by bike or, if you need a lift, just call for a golf cart.
Private flights from Cancun to Holbox take around 20 minutes in a five-person Cessna plane or helicopter. Call the Smith24 team to sort it.
Worth getting out of bed for
If there’s one thing to coax you out from under your own cotton conch shell, it’s a warm Caribbean breeze and the sound of waves lapping at the shore just a few metres away. Snap up a sunlounger on the beach or by the pool – either way, you’re all set for a day of smoothies and snoozies. When darkness finally falls, spot bioluminescent plankton in the water, or – if it’s a new moon – join the Mayan cacao ceremony on the beach.
Warm, shallow waters and a reliable easterly breeze make Holbox something of a kitesurfer’s paradise – hire the gear and take lessons with Holbox Kiteboarding School. Join a kayak trip (the hotel knows a guy) through the maze-like coastal mangrove forest – you’ll paddle past wild flamingos and, ahem, maybe a crocodile or two basking in the sun.
Holidays are always better if you make friends with the locals, and in Holbox, that means getting up-close-and-personal with the resident whale sharks. There are dozens of small-time boatmen who can take you out on a tour – ask the hotel staff for their tips on the most ethical and informative. And if the words “swimming with sharks” are enough to bring on a cold sweat, don’t worry, you’re not on the menu – these guys only eat plankton, and swim at a pedestrian 3mph.
Spanish omelettes are the speciality at La Tortilleria De Holbox (Calle Tiburón Ballena, 77310) – get yours straight up with onion and potato, or max out with added sundried tomatoes, chorizo, goats cheese; a fresh fruit smoothie is the perfect partner. Lobster pizza is a Holbox rite-of-passage – the best in town is at the shack-styled Pizzeria Edelyn (Calle Palomino, Town Square). The island doesn’t do fine dining, but the roof terrace restaurant at Casa Nostra (Av. Pedro Joaquin Coldwell) is the closest thing to date-night sophistication – and by that we mean that some people may even be wearing shoes.
Handily, Casa Las Tortugas’ Luuma is the home of the hip crowd, but for a change of scenery, grab a cold beer or zingy margarita at sunset-facing Bar El Holboxeño (at the headland, off Calle Mantarraya).
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this beachside hotel on Holbox and unpacked their hand-painted skull jewellery and sandy-pocketed swimsuits, a full account of their island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Casa Las Tortugas in Mexico…
On any good trip, there’s a precise moment when you realize that you’re truly on holiday: the first lick of an ice-cream, perhaps, or a guilt-free lie-in. Staying at Casa Las Tortugas is basically one long, joyful succession of these moments, from the instant you arrive, kick off your shoes and dig your toes into the powder-soft sand. There’s plenty to keep you busy – yoga each morning, kayaking through the mangroves, and swimming with turtles, whale sharks et al – but the best thing to do is nothing at all. At most, form a rigorous napping schedule, dividing your way-more-than-forty winks between the pool, beach and the hammock on your balcony. Chances are that until sunset reminds you it’s time for a rooftop cocktail, you’ll lose track of time completely. Still, on Holbox, nobody will notice, still less care.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Casa las Tortugas’s Guestbook below.
Holbox still has the character and feel of an island adventure and staying at Casa Las Tortugas allowed us to continue that fantasy with a combination of laid-back comfort and a perfectionist's attention to details. Casa Las Tortugas is the rare kind of boutique hotel that manages to somehow feel contemporary and upscale while perfectly integrating with its rustic and cultural surroundings. In other words, no over-the-top glitz and manufactured luxury, just the authentic grace that comes from the rare combination of great design mixed with a natural cool. It is the kind of place that just feels 'right' - like 'going home' (if home was on a pristine tropical beach and you family was populated with beautiful people who were actually happy to see you!).
Don't expect to come here for the selfie-obsessed Instagram hoards - for that, stay in Cancun and leave the natural beauty, pristine beaches and laid-back comfort for the rest of us.
Stayed on 10 Jul 2019
The relaxed atmosphere of the hotel and the location – it's close to the center of town, but still with a 'resort feeling' to it. Staff at the hotel were very attentive, spa treatments were great and yoga was also perfect!
A good WiFi connection – you're forced to disconnect. A breakfast buffet, but we really enjoyed the daily changing menu offered. Whilst we really loved Casa Las Tortugas we felt some additional items could be considered, i.e., our room didn't have towel hangers, so despite the environmental policies, and the fact we tried to hang them on a small hook originally used for the hairdryer, we ended up getting new towels every day. Considering this is a beach hotel, we would suggest adding body lotion/after-sun to the toiletries.
Stayed on 18 Jun 2019
We liked the remoteness of Holbox and the funkiness of Casa Las Tortugas. It's not your standard hotel experience, every room is unique. The pool is gorgeous and the beach is even better. Expect to get some cocktails while alternating swimming in the clear water and napping under your palapa. The hotel also has a couple of take one/leave one book libraries, which are prefect for really disconnecting with technology.
Working WiFi. Which is, honestly, a great feature if you're looking to disconnect.
Stayed on 5 May 2019
The setting was pure tropical paradise. The town retains its rustic Mexican charm whilst some of the newer hotels offer a welcome edge of luxury.
Late nights and partying.
Stayed on 13 Apr 2019
Everything about this hotel was perfect. The setting, location, staff and beautiful spa/massage. We loved the small scale intimacy and how relaxed we felt. Not at all pretentious! The hotel also put on a complementary bbq during our stay which was so nice. Relaxing with a drink under the stars with the sounds of the sea - it was perfect. We will definitely return and stay at Casa las Tortugas again. Holbox was one of the most beautiful places I've seen.
Stayed on 26 Feb 2019
The service overall was amazing! We loved the beach with a lot of nice beach beds and good food. All three restaurants served great food, probably the best on the island! We also really liked the rooms, super clean and nicely decorated with nice products. Yoga was great and the massage we got complimentary was perfect!
An amazing breakfast buffet. The complimentary breakfast was simple. And we were a bit annoyed by guests dropping their towel on a beach bed early and then disappearing all morning.